There was an Australian television series on a few years ago called Heartbreak High. It followed the lives of a dozen or so high school students as they navigated the difficulties of sex, relationships, love, betrayal, and the odd assignment.I loved it. It wasn’t afraid to tackle issues. One girl’s boyfriend died after taking a jump off rocks at the beach in a drug-induced high, and it was portrayed as ugly and unglamorous. It was a refreshing change to the media’s portrayal of drugs as either a non-entity, or a glamorous lifestyle.
Another girl dumped her boyfriend after a single indiscretion of sleeping with the new girl. No girly forgiving, he got his ass dumped cold. If he was too dumb to realise what a gem he had in her, or too arrogant to think she would ever leave him, then he deserved to lose her. She them got involved with and got pregnant to and teacher, who ditched her when he realised how catastrophic it could be to his career. No heroics, no epic love story, just looking out for number-one.
They returned to the infidelity storyline later, where a guy sleeps with his female housemate after they have a pretty scary incident with a break-in and are clinging to each other for comfort; you can understand how it happened, even if it was a rotten thing for them to do. After, she wants to tell the girlfriend but he doesn’t; she ends up telling her behind his back. The girlfriend dumps him, not because he cheated on her, but that he planned to not tell her. I liked that they made the distinction between infidelity and dishonesty – something I think should be addressed more in the media – and that she wouldn’t give him a second chance. It’s about time we saw more men getting their asses dumped for infidelity and/or the dishonesty that often goes with it, rather then it just being the woman who is expected to be faithful, ‘coz everyone knows men can stick it to any woman they see fit and their wives and girlfriends will forgive them.
(Excuse me while I go and vomit. I think I just swallowed too much tripe.)
There’s a geek who’s infatuated with a beautiful, flirtatious user, but he doesn’t take crap from her. This is not the stereotype of the geek who slaves away for the beautiful woman in return for a few secret kisses; no way, she has to pull her own weight in this relationship. When he comes down on her for being too flirtatious with other men, she tells him to get a figure like the well-built men she flirts with and then she might flirt with him exclusively; for this comment, he dumps her and will have nothing to do with her until she comes back saying “˜I’m sorry, I was wrong, I won’t flirt anymore’. I particularly liked that storyline because it wasn’t portrayed as being an exclusive storyline to either gender; one half of the couple was crossing lines without remorse, and the other said “˜respect me or we’re through’ – and went through with the ultimatum. I could see it working just as well in the reverse situation.
There’s the men who are just as insecure about their sexuality and lack of experience as women, and the women who are just as confident and forward about their sexuality as men. There were very few storylines which couldn’t be reversed and still work well, and I realise now that’s why I liked it so much.
Unfortunately, Heartbreak High got cancelled after a few seasons. It never attracted a big audience (it got dumped from commercial television to public broadcasting), despite the fact it gave a dozen or so current Australian television stars their initial leg up, which makes me wonder; without another Heartbreak High to promote young Australian actors, where are our dramas going to get their talent from? Or will they just buy more reruns of Friends. The thought makes Scarlett depressed, especially since All Saints still has its Deanna Richardson storyline going, which means the show still sucks.
If you’ll excuse her, she’s off to read her namesake novels again. At least they always have realistic characterisations in them.